Olympic Mettle

Paul Hamm should have given back the gold medal he won for the all-around in gymnastics. Two reasons — only one of which has to do with doing the right thing.

The South Korean, Yang Tae Young, was shortchanged in his score by goofball judges. A technicality in reporting the mistake prevented the error from being corrected in time. On merit, Hamm should have relented.

Second, from the perspective of enlightened self-interest, Hamm would have benefited. Everyone saw that — after a pratfall landing on vault — he gave a marvelous, comeback performance under incredible pressure to put himself back into gold contention. That can never be taken away. Moreover, Hamm had gained on Yang, in part, because the South Korean had faltered under the pressure that Hamm was ascending above — literally.

Even if Hamm had exchanged his gold for silver, he would have been the winner in the minds and hearts of all Americans and many in the international community. He would have been saluted for his sportsmanship — as well as his inspiring grace under pressure. And he would have remained the de facto gold-medal winner.

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